Monday, September 17, 2007

Yom Kippur summary


The morning Torah reading is the section from Leviticus which describes the service of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) on Yom Kippur. The commands are addressed to Aharon, Moshe's brother, as the first Kohen Gadol. This service of the Kohen Gadol also forms the main text of the Mussaf service. However the Torah lists the various activities thematically, rather than in the chronological order in which they were performed.
After the death of his two sons, Nadav and Avihu, Aharon is commanded that he may only enter into the Holy of Holies on one day a year, Yom Kippur, and only in a cloud of incense. He must first offer a bull and a ram as sin offerings, then change into special pure white garments and enter the Holy of Holies. Two identical male goats are taken and lots are cast over them. One is to be offered as a sacrifice on the altar, while the other is sent to the wilderness and pushed over a cliff known as Azazel.
After leaving the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol takes the blood of the bull and goat sacrifices and sprinkles them on the outside of the Parochet (the curtain dividing the Holy from the Holy of Holies), thus achieving atonement for the entire nation. The Kohen Gadol confesses the sins of the entire nation before the goat is sent to Azazel. He then enters the Holy of Holies a second time in order to remove the incense pan which he had left there earlier, and changes back into his normal golden vestments.
This is to be an eternal law, enacted each year on the tenth of Tishrei. The Jews are also commanded to fast and afflict themselves on this day.
The Maftir reading is from Numbers, and lists the festival offerings that are to be sacrificed on Yom Kippur.

The afternoon Torah reading lists the forbidden sexual relations. A man may not have relations with his mother or his father’s wife, nor his sister or granddaughter. Nor with his stepsister or aunt, nor daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. He may not marry a mother and daughter or two sisters. A husband and wife must refrain from having relations at the time of menstruation. Adultery, homosexuality and bestiality are forbidden. Because of these sins, the nations who previously lived in Israel were exiled and therefore the Jews must observe them so that they are not similarly exiled.

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